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Chockstone Forum - Gear Lust / Lost & Found

Rave About Your Rack Please do not post retail SPAM.

GALIBIER B.B's climbing shoes
4:04:02 PM
A few weeks ago, I posted this request on a Mountain Project forum (USA) (I have still not understood how to post pictures on a Chockstone forum…):
“Collector of Galibier mountaineering boots and rock shoes from the 60s and 70s, I have been looking for a long time, but without success, for information concerning the model of Galibier B.B's climbing shoes, marketed circa 1975. If it is not a secret that PA stands for Pierre Allain, RD for René Desmaison, and RR for Royal Robbins, to whom (or to what) do the initials "BB" correspond?”
At that time I did not imagine the Galibier B.B’s climbing shoes could have anything to do with Australia and, unfortunately, I did not think of posting here about this mysterious rock boots… A few weeks ago, the Australian climber John Croker finally brought me the solution to this enigma on the forum: “BB” stands for Beau Brummell! The boots were developed by Rick White in Australia in the early 70's sold in Aus 74-76. Had a high toe which made them awkward to use but they were comfortable to wear. John had a pair after his first pair or RDs then he happily went back to RDs then EBs until Fires came along. Beau Brummell aside from the early 19th century English society figure was a route Rick White and others [Ted Cais] put up on Mt Maroon Queensland a few years before.”
Further to John’s post, I did some research on the Internet, not only on the route Beau Brummell, but also on the person of Beau Brummell. Born June 7, 1778 in London, George Bryan Brummell, known as Beau Brummell, died March 30, 1840 in Caen (Normandy, France). He is buried in the Protestant cemetery of this city on Campus 1 of the university. What is fascinating is that what began as an ordinary research on mysterious Galibier rock shoes finds part of the solution a few hundred meters from where my family and I lived, in Caen, and where “BB” rests…
To this day, I would always be very happy to find a pair of these B.B's, in a rather good condition, to complete my collection of Galibier rock shoes…
5:44:01 PM
Some time ago Keith Bell and Mike Meadows replied to the author of this request. In order to fill in a few historical gaps regarding BBs I sent the following note to Mike and Keith.

“BB’s were the worst boots ever sold. Rick had them made as a sort of Australian Robbins Shoe; something that would be comfortable in etriers as well as being able to do the job when free climbing. They were never successful because aid climbing was going out of fashion and any other shoe, including gum boots or open sandals could perform better on rock than BBs. I had a pair at Buffalo and nearly shat myself on Caligula with Keith and John Fantini in the summer of 1973. The slippery off-camber layback was a horror to lead in BB’s! The funniest thing of all was the Galibier label that came with the boots. On all Galibier boots there was included a classy looking label which listed major climbs successfully ascended in the boots, you know the sort of thing - The American Route on the Dru, The Comici Route in the Dolomites and every North Face in Europe. Rick, ever the businessman, in his masterfully deceptive way, simply invented or renamed climbs and made them out to be enormously significant - the West Face of Mt French and the South Face of Glennies Pulpit come to mind! For years we rolled around laughing at the prospect of European climbers wondering about those climbs. Little did they know that Mt French was a 50m high cliff and that Glennies Pulpit was a 30m high crumbling rock pimple somewhere in the farmlands south of Brisbane!
11:13:17 PM
lthomas, thank you very much for these exciting details about B.B's. I love the anecdote of the Galibier label. I will treasure them with the ones Keith Bell told me. Almost every month, Keith gives me invaluable help on the history of Australian climbing and gear.
11:29:27 AM
To be fair, BB’s were pretty good in pure fist cracks and off widths. The vivid colour scheme reflected Rick’s liking for psychedelia. I remember when the first shipment arrived in Brisbane. He received a note from the Dept of Customs saying that he must pay a significant import duty before they could be collected. Rick went down to the Customs Office and somehow convinced the on-duty officer that the smooth soles of the BBs proved that they were ‘ski boots’ which attracted zero duty rather than ‘shoes’ for fashion which were lumbered with a significant import tax.
12:14:40 PM
Thanks 'Zoo very to the point! I was a little more polite - Rick was going to save us all with his blue and red boots but RDs were definitely better (and I know exactly what you meant about Caligula - scary in any boots however little they might be)
5:15:53 PM
jrc, many thanks again for your post on Mountain Project. I forwarded it to Richard Pontvert (Galibier) where no one, even the former employees, remembered the meaning of B.B's ...

lthomas, what an awesome and funny story! Great! And… thank you again!

May I add that a month ago, during a trip to Normandy, I visited George Bryan Brummell’s grave. (I sent two photos to Keith Bell). From the "historical point of view", it comes to a full circle…

5:35:07 PM
Still would love to add this "Australian/French" climbing treasure to the collection ;-)

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